Advance Directives FAQs
As a competent adult, you have the right to decide to accept or refuse any medical treatment. “Competent” means you understand your condition and the results your decisions may have. As long as you are competent, you are the only person who can decide what medical treatment you want and do not want to receive. Your doctors will give you information and advice about the pros and cons of different kinds of treatment, but only you can choose whether to say “yes” or “no.” You can say “no” even if the treatment you refuse might keep you alive longer and even if your doctor or your family wants you to have it.
Following are answers to frequently asked questions about advance directives.
- Who would you like to make treatment decisions for you, if you become unable to do so?
- How do you feel about ventilators, surgery, resuscitation (CPR), dialysis, or tube feeding if you were to become terminally ill? If you were unconscious and not likely to wake up? If you had dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease?
- What kind of medical treatment would you want if you had a severe stroke or other medical condition that made you dependant on others for all your care?
- What sort of mental, physical, or social abilities are important for you to enjoy living?
- Do you want to receive every treatment your caregivers recommend?
Our hospital policies provide that only the competent patient, not friends or family, can make health care decisions. If you are not able to make decisions, we first seek instructions from the patient advocate named in your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care document. If you have not written an advance directive, we try to determine your wishes by reviewing any statements, oral or written, you have made. We have discussions with your family about what your wishes would be and how best to fulfill them. If we are sure about what you would want, we attempt to follow your wishes. If we do not know or are not sure about what you want, or if there is a disagreement about whether to treat you or not, we will continue to provide care, although we may have to ask a court to appoint a guardian to make decisions for you. We want to understand and carry out your choices for health care.
Treatment decisions are difficult. We encourage you to think about your wishes in advance, discuss your options with your family, friends, and health care professionals, and make plans for your future health care needs.